As a young father and business owner, Ahmad Al Mahmud had no plans of leaving his home country of Syria. He had put his whole heart into his business. Yet all his hopes were dashed when his factory in Aleppo was bombed in 2012. Every piece of machinery was lost.
Facing extreme challenges at home, Ahmad made the difficult decision to leave Syria with his wife and 3 children.
In Türkiye they found a new beginning and with it, a pathway to a brighter future for their entire family. Gaziantep, a town in Southeastern Türkiye, offered a sense of home with the large Syrian community and ample opportunities to restart his business.
Reflecting on this time of transition, Ahmad said, “When I first came to Türkiye, I worked for 3 years in a factory as a refugee worker without any money or career after I had been the boss of my own company in Syria. It wasn’t easy and that affected my psychology badly.”
Ahmad turned this challenge into motivation to work hard and save money to start a new food machine and production line business in Türkiye. When the doors to Gidmak opened in 2015, they started with just one machine but quickly grew with hard work and the support of Building Markets.
Whatever I’ve earned, I reinvested into the business”, Ahmad said.
As the business expanded, Ahmad started to think of the vast possibilities to export his machines so that people in other countries could enjoy making biscuits and other pastries too.
The momentum of new sales, especially from new regions, brings Ahmad great hope. Once they sold a production line to a company in Iraq, an important deal for them, then orders just kept coming in steadily after that. “I remember those days when I desperately tried to find customers. Now, I try to put the orders in line,” he said.
Ahmed credits his involvement with Building Markets for helping build up his business skills and connect him to customers in new markets, like Muhamed Sillou, a buyer from The Gambia.
I joined Building Markets’ network after I heard about their services that support the growth of refugee-led businesses in Türkiye on social media, then the team started to connect me with local and international buyers.” Ahmad says.
This recent partnership with a Gambian cookie producer has opened new doors for Gidmak. Not only has this new contract enabled Gidmak to hire a new machinery maintenance skilled worker, increasing the number of Syrian refugees employed from 3 to 4, they’re better positioned to make other new connections in Africa too.
Because of the support and success he’s experienced, Ahmad has great optimism for the future.
This contract has enabled me to enter new promising markets in Africa and in the next five years, I’m planning to be one of the top ten manufacturers in this area.”
Global poverty is rising for the first time in decades, but access to economic opportunity can help families build thriving lives. Responding to the urgency of this moment, a group of generous donors will match every dollar up to $100,000 raised through December 31, 2022. Your gift will enable Building Markets to adapt and scale our programs to reach more small businesses creating critical jobs around the world.
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